The Hazards Created by Unqualified Truck Drivers

Unqualified Truck Drivers

Inexperienced drivers are at a higher risk of causing accidents than drivers with more experience: most people take that simple fact for granted. Teenage drivers, for example, tend to face more serious restrictions than adult drivers due to their lack of experience on the road. Many people, however, fail to consider the specific hazards created by unqualified or inexperienced truck drivers.

Truck drivers spend long hours out on the road hauling large loads and driving vehicles that require a great deal more attention to control safely than the average passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, many trucking companies continue to send out unqualified truck drivers.

What Standards Must Truck Drivers Meet?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recognizes the dangers posed by big trucks out on the road.

As a result, it requires the drivers of big trucks to meet specific standards before they hit the road:

  • Truckers must meet federal Commercial Driver’s License standards.
  • Truck drivers must receive training through an approved truck driving school. In some states, they may have to pass a test issued by the school before they can apply for a license.
  • They must take a test that shows their ability to safely operate a big truck.
  • They must meet minimum medical standards that show they can safely operate a big truck.

Sometimes, truck drivers who have earned a commercial license may no longer meet federal standards because they have developed a medical condition that would cause them to now fail medical or visual tests. Other times, truck drivers might better fit the classification of “underqualified.” They might have obtained a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), but they lack the experience and skills necessary to safely operate a big truck out on the road or they may not have received adequate training before taking a load out alone for the first time.

Common Reasons Why Unqualified Truck Drivers Hit the Road

Most trucking companies would certainly rather hire qualified truck drivers than drivers who lack the skills necessary to keep their loads safe. Unqualified or poorly qualified truck drivers also open the company up to potential liability charges.

Unfortunately, some trucking companies feel they have little choice but to send out drivers who lack the experience needed to handle themselves as safely as possible on the road. They may push unqualified drivers to drive before they’re really ready including drivers who have passed minimum licensing standards but who may not yet have the experience they need to safely navigate out on the road.

Alternatively, they may push drivers to put off medical exams and other requirements if those exams would remove the driver from their pool, even though those technically unqualified drivers could pose a serious hazard to other road users.

1. Truck driver shortages create a major problem for many companies.

The truck driver shortage has become big news across the nation. Truck drivers continue to leave the industry in large numbers, seeking jobs that will allow them to spend more time at home with friends and loved ones. With increased shipping needs during the pandemic as more people chose to order online instead of going to stores in person, many trucking companies have found themselves in need of more drivers than ever at a time when it is incredibly difficult to bring on new truckers.

Unfortunately, with shipping needs running high, many trucking companies feel as though they have little choice but to put drivers behind the wheel as soon as they can get them. All too often, this includes drivers who lack the experience necessary to safely navigate challenging road conditions.

2. Drivers may not receive adequate training before taking their road tests.

CDL training requirements vary by state, which means that drivers in some states undergo considerably less overall training than drivers in others. Many CDL schools try to provide candidates with a fast track to get their license, rather than taking the extra time needed to ensure that drivers get the right experience out on the road. Most schools push their candidates out within a matter of weeks, which means that those drivers have minimal actual road hours under their belts before they take the test for their CDL.

3. Driver training may not include many of the conditions the driver will actually face on the road.

Some drivers, for example, get their CDLs in the spring and summer months, when they do not have to deal with ice and snow on the roads. They may not have any experience in fog, in the rain, or during rush hour, especially if the school they attend does not prioritize those specific experiences. Unfortunately, that means many drivers end up licensed before they get that experience.

4. Some states have stricter requirements for truck drivers than others.

In New York, for example, truck drivers need to have specific mirrors that allow them to see pedestrians around the vehicle more easily. Truck drivers in California need to prepare for much heavier traffic than drivers traveling through Mississippi or Alabama. Truck drivers, however, often end up carrying loads across the country and that means no matter how strict the laws of a specific state are, there will be big truck drivers on that state’s roads who have not had to meet the state’s high standards.

5. Driver training may not prepare drivers for some of the realities of the job.

Driver training usually aims at preparing truck drivers for the basics of the job, including how to safely manage road conditions. However, it may not prepare truck drivers for the reality of 11 hours a day out on the road, often with just one break. As a result, truck drivers may have a hard time dealing with distraction or drowsiness once they get out on the road.

6. Drivers may put off medical exams or even falsify information to keep their license.

Truck drivers must meet physical fitness standards in addition to driving capability standards. Unfortunately, over time some truck drivers may no longer meet those physical fitness standards or may develop a condition that prevents them from navigating the road safely. As a result, they may try to falsify information or avoid medical exams to prevent the loss of their CDL certification.

The Hazards Posed by Unqualified Truck Drivers

Unqualified truck drivers can present a significant accident risk out on the road.

1. Unqualified truck drivers may not know what to do in an emergency.

While truck driver training generally offers a basic look at many of the potential emergencies that can happen out on the road, drivers may not leave training prepared to safely control a big truck in the event of an emergency. Short-term training simply does not provide the experience drivers need to handle many common situations.

Suppose, for example, that a truck driver who got their license in the spring encounters ice on the road for the first time the following winter. They may not have adequate experience to get the vehicle back under control, increasing the odds that they will cause an accident. Likewise, a truck driver who has not ever experienced a jackknife, when the trailer swings forward away from the body of the truck and out of control, may have very poor odds of getting the vehicle back under control, while a more experienced truck driver would be able to regain control of the vehicle and prevent a collision.

2. Unqualified truck drivers may skip steps in their vehicle inspections or fail to notice potential problems.

Experienced truck drivers become very familiar with their vehicles: what they sound like, what they feel like, and what potential problems look like. They may know even before a mechanic can diagnose a problem that it is an issue. Unfortunately, inexperienced truck drivers, especially those who did not go through adequate training, may have a harder time identifying potential problems and may, as a result, be at a higher risk of causing a serious accident.

Suppose, for example, that a tire starts to wobble. An experienced, highly qualified truck driver might know immediately that they need to pull over and either replace the tire or figure out what has caused the problem. An inexperienced truck driver, on the other hand, might not even feel the wobble, or might assume that it occurred due to the condition of the road. They might not pull off in time to prevent a tire blowout, which could cause serious injury to them and others around them.

An unqualified truck driver might also fail to recognize the signs of an impending shifting load incident. On a flatbed, for example, heavy straps usually help hold down the cargo to keep it in place as the truck travels down the road. If a strap becomes overloaded, fails, or gets stretched too far, it could result in serious injury as the cargo falls from the truck. An inexperienced, poorly qualified driver might not be able to recognize this potential danger.

3. Unqualified drivers may not meet medical fitness standards.

Truck drivers, to acquire the Class D license they need to operate on the road, must pass a medical standards test that shows that they can physically handle the rigors of operating a big truck out on the road. Truck drivers might not meet medical qualifications for many reasons, from potential heart problems to a risk of narcolepsy. These and other health problems can be dangerous for drivers and everyone who has to share the road with them. Unfortunately, many truck drivers put off their medical exams for as long as possible, especially if they know they have a looming failure ahead of them. As a result, they may end up out on the road with serious health problems that could interfere substantially with their ability to operate a big truck safely.

4. Unqualified drivers may struggle with inebriation.

Truck drivers have a higher than average rate of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Often, truck drivers struggle with the loneliness that can come from long hours on the road, missing events with friends and family, or simply not spending time with their loved ones. Some end up drinking to alleviate some of that loneliness. Unfortunately, all too many truck drivers take to the road while still inebriated.

An inebriated truck driver poses a serious danger to everyone around them, particularly if the truck driver continues to drink while on the road. Drivers can lose their CDL if they are convicted of a DUI, but truck drivers may try to keep their licenses anyway, avoid reporting the DUI, or even lie to their employers to keep their jobs.

5. Fatigue can pose a serious problem for many unqualified truck drivers.

Many unqualified truck drivers do not know how to manage fatigue well, from the natural fatigue that occurs when drivers take to the road for too long to fatigue that comes from late nights, excessive drinking the night before, or illness. Sometimes, certain chronic health conditions increase the risk of fatigue. Fatigued drivers experience many of the same symptoms as inebriated drivers on the road, making them a danger to everyone around them.

What Should You Do After an Accident With an Unqualified Truck Driver?

You have the same rights after an accident with an unqualified truck driver that you would after an accident with a fully licensed truck driver. Even if the driver did not meet minimum qualifications because of a medical condition or they did not receive adequate training, they bear liability for any negligent decisions they make behind the wheel. If a driver causes an accident, you have the right to file for compensation through the driver’s insurance company.

To help protect your right to compensation, you should:

  • Report the accident. Do not let a truck driver convince you that your report will get them in too much trouble because they do not have their license. Instead, report the accident to the police and allow them to sort it out.
  • Seek medical attention, if you need it. Truck accidents can result in serious injuries, many of which have long-term consequences, and should receive prompt treatment.
  • Contact an attorney to help you manage your case.

A truck accident lawyer can help you understand your rights, including how much compensation you may deserve for your truck accident injuries. Contact a lawyer as soon after your truck accident as possible.

Truck T-Bone Accidents

Truck T Bone Accidents

T-bone collisions, also known as broadside collisions, can be one of the most frightening and terrible accidents anyone can experience, especially when it involves a truck. There are thousands of commercial vehicles on Florida’s interstate routes every day. According to the Motor Carrier Safety Progress Report, 103,811 large truck crashes took place in one year in the U.S., causing 3,260 fatalities.

In addition, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that approximately 15 percent of all fatal truck accidents in the United States are side-impact collisions. Unlike rear-end collisions, in a T-bone accident, the door and window are the only buffers. Passengers in cars do not have a bumper, trunk, and possibly additional seats to blunt the impact.

In most T-bone accidents, the driver and passengers on the impacted side suffer the most significant injuries. However, the severity of the injuries depends on several factors, such as what part of the truck hit, how fast the vehicle was traveling, vehicle weight and construction, and safety features.

The force of the impact may cause one or more vehicles to spin out or rollover.

Common Causes of Truck T-Bone Collisions

Most T-bone accidents happen in intersections. But, of course, traffic is not supposed to cross an intersection at right angles simultaneously. Therefore, one of the two entered the intersection wrongfully; such as a truck that runs a red light and hits a car that is passing through the intersection.

As with other accidents, a variety of factors may cause a crash, including:

  • Speeding. Truck drivers are often under pressure to meet strict deadlines. However, they are only allowed to drive a limited number of hours each day. If their employers pay them by the mile, they may speed to make more money. A large truck traveling at high speed is difficult to maneuver and stop, which may cause an accident.
  • Failing to stop: Large commercial vehicles require more time and distance to come to a stop. If the driver is speeding or inattentive, they may not be able to stop in time to avoid a T-bone accident.
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way. For example, a truck driver may fail to yield the right-of-way at an intersection, resulting in a collision.
  • Improper turns: Truck drivers must make turns carefully and allow plenty of clearance to keep everyone safe. If a truck driver makes an improper turn, the truck may block a travel lane and cause a T-bone collision.
  • Blind spot accidents. A big commercial truck has significant blind spots on all four sides, which can make it hard for them to see other vehicles and increase the risk of an accident.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drunk or drugged drivers cause approximately 28 percent of traffic deaths in the U.S. An impaired truck driver has slower reaction times and may be unable to maneuver their vehicles safely or properly navigate challenges on the road, including intersections.
  • Drowsiness. Driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Fatigued drivers have difficulty controlling their trucks and focusing on the road. For example, the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 13 percent of truck drivers were driving drowsy when the crash occurred.
  • Distractions. Small or large distractions, whether inside or outside the truck cab, can divert a driver. Distractions inside the cab include cell phones, using dispatching devices, or changing the radio station. The law prohibits CMV drivers from texting while driving. Outside distractions may consist of watching people, places, or things of interest. One study found that in 71 percent of large-truck collisions, the truck driver was doing or paying attention to something other than driving the truck at the time of the crash.
  • Defective equipment: If a truck or a truck component is faulty, the driver may lose control of the vehicle. For example, brake failure is a risk, especially for big semi-trucks, which require significantly more time and space to stop.
  • Poor weather conditions. Poor weather, such as rain and snow, can increase the risk of a truck accident. If the wheels cannot gain enough traction, the driver may not be able to stop in time. In addition, rain, snow, and fog can lead to decreased visibility, making it hard for truck drivers to see other vehicles.

Laws Regarding Truck Accidents

All drivers have a responsibility to drive safely. Like all drivers, a truck driver is negligent when they fail to act with the level of care that anyone, under similar circumstances, would have used. A commercial driver’s license is a privilege and not a right. That means operating the truck responsibly and following the standards and regulations for truck drivers under state and federal law.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a government agency responsible for providing oversight for commercial vehicles. Its fundamental goal is to reduce accidents, fatalities, and injuries involving commercial vehicles. The FMCSA does this by establishing and enforcing a comprehensive set of regulations.

Florida also has laws regarding commercial motor vehicles. The Office of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (OCVE) enforces such laws. For example, no vehicle may exceed a height of 13 feet and six inches and a width of 102 inches, exclusive of safety devices installed for the safe operation of the truck. Exterior rearview mirrors can only extend the distance that is necessary to provide an appropriate field of view.

State and federal law also regulate other elements of commercial vehicle operation, such as:

  • Driver qualification.
  • Vehicle inspection, repair, and maintenance.
  • Financial responsibility for motor carriers.
  • Cargo securement. The FMSCA enforces strict rules about loading and securing cargo so that it remains secure during transport.
  • Parts and accessories necessary for safe operation.
  • Noise emissions.
  • Transportation of hazardous materials. Flammable cargo can cause dangerous fires or explosions.

Violation of state or federal regulations is negligence, and in the event of an accident, the at-fault parties may be liable.

Who May Be Liable?

Each collision is unique. There may be more than one person or entity responsible for the crash. The obvious responsible party may be the negligent driver of the truck that broadsided your car. However, the trucking company may also be liable for the actions of its employee. Trucking companies also are responsible for operating their business safely for everyone on the road. It is their responsibility to hire competent, well-trained drivers who have the appropriate licenses to operate commercial vehicles.

The trucking company also must maintain their trucks and keep them in good working order. Commercial vehicle owners must keep strict maintenance records. Federal law restricts how long a driver can stay behind the wheel without a rest period. Requiring drivers to maintain unreasonably long schedules can lead to accidents.

If a mechanical failure or poor truck maintenance led to the accident, the truck owner or the person or entity responsible for its maintenance might be liable. If a defective part, such as malfunctioning tires or brakes, caused the accident, then the manufacturer of the truck or its components may be liable for the resulting harm. If the roads were inadequately constructed or maintained, the appropriate governmental entity might be responsible.

Injuries That Result From T-Bone Truck Accidents

T-bone truck accidents can cause devastating and possibly fatal injuries. The average passenger vehicle weighs approximately 3,400 pounds, while a fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Therefore, if a truck strikes a passenger vehicle broadside, the occupants of the passenger vehicle have a high risk of injury.

Common severe injuries that can result from a T-bone truck collision include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries: A jolt or blow to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even a “mild” TBI, such as a concussion, can cause long-term damage, and more severe TBIs can cause permanent brain damage. A TBI can leave the injured person with impairments affecting their mobility, cognition, and emotional health.
  • Spinal cord injuries: A spinal cord injury may interrupt messages between the body and the brain. There are numerous debilitating symptoms, such as weakness, loss of movement, loss of sensation, and difficulty breathing. In some cases, the victim suffers partial or complete paralysis.
  • Organ damage and internal bleeding: The force of a truck crash can also cause internal bleeding and other damage to internal organs, such as the liver, bladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and lungs. If not treated quickly, internal bleeding can be fatal.
  • Crush injuries. Truck accidents often lead to crushing injuries, such as compressed nerves, crushed organs, and limbs.
  • Burns. Large trucks also have large fuel tanks. Therefore, in a crash, they are more likely to explode, and everyone involved could suffer burn injuries, which are painful and often disfiguring.
  • Severe lacerations: in an accident, sharp objects such as glass or metal may cut vehicle occupants. These lacerations can cause life-threatening blood loss, infections, and permanent nerve damage.

What Compensation May Be Available?

If you have been injured in a truck crash, you may face enormous medical bills, lost wages, and an altered future. The damages you may receive depend mainly on the nature and severity of your injuries, their impact on your life, the strength of your case, and the financial resources of the at-fault party.

Generally speaking, victims of T-bone truck crashes can file a lawsuit seeking payment for:

  • All expenses related to medical care for the injury;
  • Other losses related to the accident or injuries;
  • Lost wages. In some cases, the individual can never return to work or never resume their previous career;
  • Pain, suffering, loss of consortium and diminished quality of life; and
  • In some cases, punitive damages to punish the party who caused the crash for extreme or outrageous conduct.

In the event of a fatal T-bone truck accident, family members of the deceased victim may seek compensation for their loss through a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death occurs when one person dies due to the legal fault of another party. State law governs who is entitled to sue for wrongful death. The damages they recover through legal action generally include costs and financial losses related to the death.

Were You Injured in a Truck T-Bone Accident?

Even if you believe you have not been injured or your injuries are minor, it is essential to seek medical attention. Some injuries, such as internal trauma, do not become apparent right away, or you may not be aware of the full extent of your injuries. If you delay medical care, your injuries may worsen. Medical records also are valuable evidence if you pursue a truck accident claim.

Do not leave the scene of a T-bone collision unless you must seek necessary medical care or call the police. If it is dangerous to remain at the scene, move to a safe area and call for help. If possible, take photos of your injuries, the damage to the vehicles, and the accident scene. Note any video cameras in the area that may have recorded the accident. Avoid posting pictures or comments about your accident on social media.

Contact your insurance company, but avoid talking to or signing any documents from the other party’s insurance company without advice from your own attorney. The insurance companies covering truckers and trucking companies against liability will try to pay as little as possible. Their policies often have higher limits and more detailed, complex provisions.

There are strict deadlines for filing lawsuits, called Statutes of Limitations, so contact an attorney as soon as possible. Truck accidents are complicated. Your attorney can handle communications, gather and preserve evidence for your claim, negotiate on your behalf to obtain the compensation you deserve, and take your case to trial if necessary.

If you suffer injuries in a T-bone collision with a truck, you should speak with an experienced, dedicated legal team. For more information or to arrange a free consultation, contact a truck accident attorney today.

Truck Rollovers Cause Too Many Fatal Accidents

Truck Roll Over

Thousands of commercial vehicles travel the Florida interstates every day. Trucks provide a valuable service to businesses and consumers all across the nation. Unfortunately, 5,237 large trucks and buses were in fatal crashes in the most recent year for which there is data.

Driving a big truck requires training and skill. Most truck drivers drive safely to protect themselves and the passenger vehicles that surround them. Still, all too often, someone’s negligence causes a rollover accident. The insurance industry publication Claims Journal reports that rollovers caused a disproportionately high number of fatalities.

Common Causes of Truck Rollovers

Some factors, such as a truck driver failing to watch out for traffic conflicts or not checking carefully at intersections, contribute to many truck accidents. Other factors are especially likely to cause rollovers. The actions of other drivers may also play a part. For example, other drivers may drive erratically, forcing trucks to maneuver abruptly, or other vehicles may collide with a truck.

Truck rollovers still happen despite crash avoidance technology such as electronic stability control (ESC), which the law requires on all new truck tractors and buses since 2019. Although rollovers often occur during turns and on highway ramps, many also happen on straight, dry roads. Truck rollover accidents most often happen due to centrifugal force, which causes the truck to lean away from the direction of a curve as it travels along that path.

Speed increases the centrifugal force exerted against the truck, so there is a greater risk of an accident. Tractor-trailers typically have a high center of gravity. Therefore, they have a greater chance of getting into a rollover accident than other vehicles, especially if they carry unstable loads. Statistics show that 63 percent of rollover accidents happen to trucks with partial loads.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Large Truck Crash Causation Study studied 239 crashes in which a truck rolled over. Researchers observed that a rollover “increases the roll moment about the longitudinal axis of the vehicle, generally either turning too quickly or allowing one side of the vehicle to drop or rise suddenly.” Frequent causes of rollovers include:

Speed. Many truck rollovers happen because of speed. Excessive speed is involved in 45 percent of all crashes. In many cases, the truck driver misjudged the safe speed for entering and navigating a curve. Researchers have concluded that when the truck’s front wheels turn more quickly than the cargo the truck is pulling, or when the truck’s cargo is unstable or improperly loaded, the center of gravity shifts and may cause a rollover.

Distracted driving. The second most common contributor to truck rollovers is truck driver inattention or distraction. Any time a truck driver’s attention wanders from driving, the driver is more likely to react to hazards by sudden changes in direction, which may lead to a rollover.

The three main types of distraction for truck drivers:

  1. Visual – taking their eyes off the road;
  2. Manual – taking their hands off the wheel; and
  3. Cognitive – taking their mind off what they are doing.

Studies show that due to inattentional blindness, a driver may fail to see something, such as a stoplight, even when looking at it. Distractions are everywhere, from radios to passing scenery. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations prohibit texting and hand-held mobile phone use while operating a commercial motor vehicle used in interstate commerce. When it comes to using mobile devices by truck drivers, the FMCSA says a driver should not be reaching, holding, dialing, texting, or reading.

Losing control of the truck. When a driver loses control of a truck, they are at risk of causing a rollover. This loss of control sometimes happens due to over-steering when changing lanes or swerving harder than necessary to avoid a possible hazard. Sharp changes in direction are similar to what happens when a driver takes a curve too fast. They cause an imbalance that leads to rollover. Under steering, such as failing to steer away from a road shoulder, which causes the wheels to leave the road, and overcorrection can also cause rollovers.

Precautionary measures. Factors that happen even before the truck is on the road can lead to rollover accidents. The failure of the driver or cargo loaders to check the safety and security of the cargo is a significant factor in rollovers. An unbalanced load or sudden shift in cargo can cause a driver to lose control of the truck. Other factors can include alcohol or drug use, fatigue, or a medical condition.

Vehicle condition. The condition of the truck’s system and parts, particularly brakes, tires, and steering mechanism, are crucial in preventing all kinds of accidents. The trucking company, those responsible for maintenance and repairs, and the drivers themselves are all responsible to inspect the truck carefully before starting.

Other consequences of rollovers. Even if no other vehicle collides with an overturned truck, the rollover can lead to secondary accidents. These may happen because other vehicles swerve to miss an overturned truck, or are dangerously distracted by the accident. In addition, when a truck rolls, cargo may fall onto the road, potentially creating hazards. Goods can block traffic lanes and drivers may swerve to avoid it. Liquid cargo can cause an unexpectedly slippery road. Toxic or chemical cargo can lead to fires and explosions.

Common Injuries Resulting From Truck Rollovers

Truck rollovers are terrifying. In many accidents, the trailer tips over first, and then it snaps the cab over. While rollovers are fairly uncommon compared to other types of crashes, they tend to cause catastrophic injuries. A truck rollover can cause more than one injury. For example, a victim may suffer a spinal injury as well as serious burns from a tanker that catches fire. These injuries can cause months or years of pain and require expensive medical treatment.

Common injuries from truck rollovers include but are not limited to:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI). Often, a TBI is a life-changing injury. The Centers for Disease Control describes a TBI as a “bump, blow, or jolt, or penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function.” A severe TBI can affect cognitive and motor functions. It may also result in behavioral and emotional problems. An individual who suffers from a severe TBI may require medical care and additional help for the rest of their lives.
  • Spinal cord injury. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, someone who suffers a spinal cord injury may be partially or totally paralyzed. They may need assistance with transportation and daily tasks.
  • Broken bones. Bone fractures are common in a truck rollover. Recovery is typically slow and painful. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.
  • Internal injuries. Even if you are not experiencing symptoms, you should always seek medical attention following an accident. You may have internal organ damage or internal bleeding, which, if left untreated, can be fatal.
  • Burns—Doctors classify burns as first, second, third, or fourth-degree burns, according to how deeply and severely they penetrate the skin. Burns are extremely painful and may result in permanent and disfiguring scars.

Laws Regulating Trucks

Two U.S. Department of Transportation agencies plus individual states oversee large truck safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets standards for new truck equipment. The FMCSA oversees the safety of commercial vehicles in interstate commerce (vehicles operating across state lines) and has some jurisdiction over equipment standards for trucks currently on the road. FMCSA regulations cover equipment, licensing, hours of service, and vehicle inspection and maintenance. The department of transportation in individual states governs intrastate commercial trucking.

Truckers must follow many laws including:

Maximum weight permitted. The size of the truck determines its maximum weight permitted by law. For instance, a single axle truck can carry up to 20,000 pounds. However, a two-axle truck can carry up to 34,000 pounds. The federal commercial vehicle maximum weight standard on the interstate highway system is 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. Off the interstate highway system, states may set different commercial vehicle size and weight standards. In most states, the maximum permitted length for a single trailer is 53 feet. Tractors pulling two 28-foot trailers are called twins or western doubles.

Commercial driver licenses. Drivers of commercial trucks must have the appropriate commercial driver’s license. A Commercial Drivers License is required in Florida for any driver operating a tractor-trailer with a declared weight of 26,001 pounds or more. There are various classes of commercial drivers licenses.

Hours of service. The law regulates how long a driver can drive without taking a break, or “hours of service.” Generally, there is a 14-consecutive-hour window, called the daily limit, in which the driver may spend 11 hours behind the wheel after 10 or more consecutive hours off. Regulations require an off-duty break of at least 30 minutes when more than 8 consecutive hours have passed since a driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth half-hour break. Thirty-minute meal breaks, or a half-hour of other off-duty time, count for this break requirement.

There is also a weekly limit on hours of service.

A driver whose company does not operate trucks every day of the week is not allowed to drive after being on duty 60 hours during seven consecutive days. If the company operates every day of the week, an employer may assign a 70 hour/eight consecutive day schedule. Every commercial driver must maintain a daily driver’s log. Since 2015, drivers have been using electronic logging devices that automatically record driving time and monitor engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information.

Vehicle defects.

If a defect in the truck or any component of the truck causes an accident, the injured person may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer, supplier, or repairer of the truck. There are federal laws regarding the manufacturing and repairs of commercial vehicles, such as air brake systems.

Hazardous waste.

The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety regulates the transportation of hazardous materials.

Who May Be Liable

Federal and state truck regulations are only effective if the drivers and companies adhere to them. If they do not, and this failure to follow the law leads to an accident, the person or entity responsible could be liable for the accident victims’ injuries. More than one party may be liable for a truck rollover accident.

Possible negligent parties can include:

  • The driver;
  • The company that owns the truck;
  • The company that owns the trailer;
  • The truck manufacturer;
  • The truck loader (overloading a truck is dangerous);
  • The manufacturers of the truck and its components; and/or
  • The individual or company responsible for the truck’s maintenance.

Compensation for a Truck Rollover Accident

A truck rollover injury can lead to devastating personal and financial losses.

Compensation, also called damages, can include:

  • Medical expenses – including ambulance fees, emergency room care, hospital stays, doctor’s visits, therapy, rehabilitation, adaptive devices, and hiring help to handle daily tasks.
  • Pain and suffering – this refers to the physical pain and the psychological and emotional distress caused by the accident and resulting injuries.
  • Lost wages – any lost income due to the accident and ongoing medical care.
  • Lost earning capacity – in some cases, the injured person can’t return to their job or may even be unable to continue in their present career due to impairments from their injuries.
  • Loss of companionship – this can be either the loss of familial affection or relationships.
  • Wrongful death.
  • Punitive damages, provided for in Florida Statute § 768.72, which states “[a] defendant may be held liable for punitive damages only if the judge or jury, based on clear and convincing evidence, finds that the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.” Fla. Stat. § 768.72(2). Florida’s laws limit punitive damages to three times compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.

Were You Injured in a Truck Rollover Accident?

No one should experience physical, financial, and emotional losses due to someone else’s negligence. The law limits the time you have to file a lawsuit after an accident, called the statute of limitations. Truck accidents are very complicated, so act promptly. If a truck rollover accident injured you speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer. A lawyer can help protect your rights and guide you through the legal process.

Distracted Driving: The Most Common Cause of Collision

Distracted Driving

“I just looked down for a second.”

“I never saw him.”

“I was texting/changing the radio/checking my GPS.”

All too often, these responses, and others like them, come tumbling from the mouths of people who have just caused a serious collision. Unfortunately, distraction serves as one of the top causes of collisions.

The NHTSA notes that distracted driving claims more than 3,000 lives each year. In addition, it causes substantial injuries to many victims of those accidents. Nevertheless, as many as 42 percent of high school students admit to texting or emailing while driving.

Distracted driving may account for as many as 27 percent of crashes each year. In some cases, it may account for even more.

Distracted Driving: Defined

Distracted driving involves taking the driver’s hands, eyes, or attention off the road while operating a motor vehicle. Each distraction involves a serious breach in the driver’s duty of care to others around him.

Visual Distractions

Most drivers do not think twice about glancing away from the road for a moment or two, whether they need to change the settings on the radio or check the directions on a GPS device. Unfortunately, visual distractions can pull the driver’s attention from the road and make it impossible for the driver to see what has happened around him.

Without that warning, a driver may drive straight into a collision without even hesitating to reduce the risk of an accident, whether the problem includes a child darting out into the street or the car in front of him slamming on his brakes.

Manual Distractions

Driving a vehicle safely involves keeping both hands either on the wheel or ready to respond quickly. Some drivers, however, will take one or even both hands off the wheel to engage in other behaviors, from texting and driving to changing a station on the radio.

Unfortunately, often, drivers will take their dominant hand off the wheel to perform those tasks, which means they may lack the ability to respond quickly and safely in the event of a hazard. While it may take only fractions of a second to get the hand back on the wheel, those fractions of a second could prevent a driver from reacting fast enough to stop an accident.

Cognitive Distractions

Many drivers find it easy to grow distracted behind the wheel, especially when it comes to allowing their attention to drift. The roads may all appear the same.

Drivers who have spent a long time behind the wheel may find themselves growing drowsy and turn to distractions to keep themselves awake. Other times, drivers may allow their attention to drift from the task at hand keeping the vehicle safely on-course and turn instead to other activities and behaviors, from singing along to the radio to chatting with someone in the vehicle.

Even daydreaming or, in some cases, needing to use the restroom can cause drivers to grow increasingly distracted behind the wheel, increasing the odds that they will cause an accident due to overall inattention.

Distractions do not necessarily fit into one category or another. Texting and driving, for example, involves all three types of distractions: the driver must take his eyes off the road to read a text message and look at the keypad, his hands off the road to use the phone, and his attention off the road as he considers the content of the text message instead of the road around him.

Common Distractions

Most people think first of texting, or at least cell phone use in general, when they consider the dangers of distracted driving. After all, cell phone use poses a potent distraction that takes the driver’s full attention off of the road. However, cell phone use does not cover the only distractions that a driver may have to contend with behind the wheel.

#1.Conversations With People in the Vehicle

Conversations with people in the vehicle often prove safer than conversations with people outside the vehicle, since people in the vehicle can more readily respond to road conditions and stop talking or reduce distractions in hazardous moments.

However, drivers engaging in highly involved conversations with other people in their vehicles may also suffer from substantial distractions. A very engaging discussion, or a contentious one, can cause drivers to pay more attention to the conversation than they do to the road around them, which may cause them to miss potential hazards and ultimately cause a serious accident.

#2.Programming or Using a GPS Device

GPS devices and apps offer considerable benefit to many drivers, whether they need to navigate to a place they have never visited before or they simply need to check on traffic as they head to their destinations.

Many traffic apps will warn drivers of potential hazards before they appear, including cars stopped on the road, heavy traffic, or even accidents. However, those apps can pose a potent distraction when people start paying more attention to them than they do to the road around them.

People may also notice significant distractions when they try to program a GPS while driving. Sometimes, a driver may realize halfway to his destination that he does not know how to reach his destination, or that he does not know where to turn next.

To avoid distraction, he may benefit from actually pulling off the road or allowing someone else in the car to program the device. A driver who attempts to program the device while driving, whether he uses a device attached to the vehicle or a handheld one, may find himself suffering from substantial distraction.

#3. Eating or Drinking in the Car

Most drivers do not think twice about eating or drinking behind the wheel. Eating in the car seems, on the surface, as though it can save time and effort, not to mention allowing them to pull that first crispy fry out of the bag while it remains hot.

In many cases, however, eating or drinking behind the wheel can have catastrophic outcomes, especially if the driver chooses to eat something messy. Eating requires the driver to take at least one hand off the wheel. If something spills, it could result in a substantial visual and cognitive distraction, especially if the driver overreacts or over-steers to control a spill.

Drinking, especially without a straw, can also serve to obscure the driver’s vision.

#4. Dealing With Kids and Pets

Kids and pets, in the car, can pose some of the most potent distractions that a driver may have to deal with. A distracting child may make it very difficult for the parent to keep eyes on the road. Sometimes, parents may even turn around to deal with their children or reach behind them to fetch a fallen item. Furthermore, parents may have more attention on their children than the other cars moving around them, which could spell disaster out on the road.

Pets can pose an equally potent problem, especially if allowed to roam around the vehicle while the car remains in motion. A roaming pet can not only cause a distraction when the driver tries to call it down, it may result in serious problems when it interferes with the driver’s ability to steer or puts its paws or nose into the gear shift.

#5. Putting on Makeup

Some women become very talented at putting on makeup quickly. Trying to do it while driving, however, could spell disaster. As people put on makeup behind the wheel, they must look at the mirror, rather than at the road. Putting on makeup also involves taking at least one hand off the wheel. Unfortunately, many drivers continue to try to put on makeup or finish getting ready for the workday while they drive down the road, raising the odds of a serious incident.

#6. Changing the Music

With the growth of modern technology, it has become easier than ever for drivers to grow distracted by changing the music in their vehicles. Even older vehicles may pull drivers’ attention from the road as they change the station on the radio or adjust the volume. More modern vehicles, on the other hand, often have music controls tied to the driver’s phone.

The driver may flip through albums, pull up an app, or try to find the perfect song. Even a driver who does not pull out the phone directly, choosing instead to use the vehicle’s controls to change music settings, may have his eyes on the screen in the vehicle, rather than on the road ahead.

#7. Changing Temperature Controls

Temperature controls do not seem like they should pose a potent distraction. Simply turn the heat or air up or down, then move on. Unfortunately, some people have a hard time setting things exactly where they want them without looking.

Here, too, modern vehicles may pose a more potent problem, since they have more options for heat and air conditioning settings. Not only do drivers have to decide exactly where they want to set their temperature controls, they may need to adjust them for passengers in the rear or even on the passenger side of the vehicle. The more drivers have to fiddle with those controls, the more their attention may pull away from the road.

#8. Smart Devices

Many people use smart, connected devices, particularly watches, to quickly respond to information that would normally appear on their phones, including text messages. Unfortunately, those smart devices may prove an even more potent and problematic distraction than smartphones themselves.

While many drivers have learned not to keep their phones in reach when on the road, smartwatches are frequently right there on the user’s arm. It can prove much more difficult to ignore a buzz from the user’s hand. Not only that, many users think they can get away with just sneaking a glance down to see the basic content of the message.

Smartwatches, however, have much smaller screens than the average smartphone. Text has to scroll across the screen for the user to read it, which may make it much more difficult for the user to take in the necessary information at a glance. Ultimately, that may lead to more time with eyes focused off the road, which may increase the risk of an accident or the severity of a collision.

#9. Watching Something Outside the Car

Sometimes, events outside the vehicle may seem more interesting than watching the road itself. A driver may shift his attention to an accident that took place nearby, to construction, or even to reading the store names as he drives past an unfamiliar shopping center, rather than keeping his attention on the road. Those external distractions can take over so much of a driver’s focus that he fails to pay attention to his tasks on the road, which may result in a serious collision.

#10. Zoning out or Daydreaming

Zoning out or daydreaming may not seem dangerous, especially on a familiar road. Unfortunately, many drivers may zone out so far that they stop paying attention to what happens around them, raising the risk of a collision.

Daydreaming can cause a driver’s attention to drift so far from the road that they no longer notice potential hazards, or even cause them to drive absentmindedly, which could cause them to cross into another lane or cut off another driver. Zoning out could also cause a driver to respond absentmindedly instead of mindfully, resulting in challenges like rear-end collisions or sideswipe accidents.

Drivers who grow distracted on the road may cause serious accidents, regardless of the source of the distraction. If you get into an accident with a distracted driver, report the accident immediately, and seek medical attention. If you have questions about your right to compensation following an accident with a distracted driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Speeding is a Factor in 26 percent of Fatal Accidents

Speeding Car

Many people do not think twice about increasing their rate of speed, especially when they get in a hurry on the road. Speeding can, they often assume, help them reach their destinations faster, which seems like the ideal solution when drivers get in a hurry.

Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, speeding also carries an underlying hazard: It factors into around 26 percent of fatal accidents each year.

The Hazards of Speeding

Some people take speeding for granted, assuming that it will simply help them get to their destination faster and cause relatively few problems along the way. Unfortunately, speeding often leads to more severe consequences than the driver may think especially when coupled with other potentially dangerous driving behaviors.

#1. Speeding Requires Drivers to React Faster

The faster you drive, the faster you need to react in the event of an emergency. Your vehicle needs time to slow down, steer, or stop. You cannot force it to stop or maneuver faster, even if you feel very comfortable and confident behind the wheel.

As a result, at a high rate of speed, you must react faster than if you face the same set of circumstances at a slower rate of speed. Unfortunately, many drivers do not have adequate time to react once a threat makes itself known, especially if they have engaged in other dangerous driving behaviors, including tailgating or swerving through traffic.

#2. Speeding Can Make Drivers Harder to Predict

Not only does the speeding driver have to react faster in the event of a hazard on the road, but other drivers around him must also react faster. A speeding driver may quickly careen out of control or cross over into another driver’s lane. At those high rates of speed, the driver must react faster to avoid a collision.

#3. Speed Can Increase the Risks Associated with Driver Distraction

Distraction kills out on the road, especially at high rates of speed. Distracted drivers who have chosen to speed may never notice a potential hazard as it comes their way. Often, those drivers may end up with much more substantial injuries than they would have suffered if they had slowed down.

At a high rate of speed, a vehicle travels much further during those moments of distraction. In the seconds a driver looks away from the road, much more of the road will pass him by than if he had become distracted at a lower rate of speed. As a result, the driver may have a hard time reacting appropriately to potential hazards, even if he notices them.

#4. Speeding May Increase the Severity of an Accident

Sometimes, an accident would have happened regardless of the driver’s rate of speed. He might not have had adequate time to stop, or to maneuver around a hazard. However, at a high rate of speed, the driver hits the obstacle with more force.

That increased force travels through the vehicle, resulting in more serious damage to both vehicles and potentially more serious injury for everyone in them. At high rates of speed, drivers may have greater odds of suffering more serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and internal injuries.

#5. One Driver’s Speed May Influence Another

Speeding often forms a vicious cycle. One driver speeds up to get to his destination faster, or even to move over and change lanes on a highway. The driver next to him or in front of him speeds up. The driver behind him speeds up.

Suddenly, it seems as though every vehicle on the road has increased its rate of speed to match the others around it. Frequently, drivers who prefer to drive at slower speeds may feel pressured to increase their speed more than they feel comfortable. Younger drivers, in particular, may prove prone to giving in to this form of peer pressure out on the road.

Why Do Drivers Speed?

1. Drivers may get in a hurry.

Sometimes, drivers speed simply because they feel that they need to rush to meet their destination. They may leave the house late, fall behind because of traffic, or habitually fail to leave themselves enough time to reach their destinations.

In reality, however, speeding may not save drivers as much time as they think. Moving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit will only save 10 minutes over the course of an hour. In a shorter journey, it might save even less time.

Furthermore, traffic patterns can prevent speeding drivers from making additional progress toward their goals. Speeding may also create more delays than it resolves, especially as drivers create traffic jams due to their reckless or aggressive behavior on the road.

2. Some drivers speed habitually.

Speeding, for some drivers, simply becomes a normal pattern. They speed on their way to work. They speed on their way home. Unfortunately, they may not even recognize the pattern, even as their speed increases and they pose a growing danger to themselves and others. A driver in the habit of speeding may not even realize how high his speed has risen until he loses control of his vehicle, which could mean a potent risk to everyone around him.

Drivers who speed habitually may also offer another hazard: they may show a greater likelihood of growing distracted while speeding. Frequently, drivers become more distracted in familiar territory as they zone out and pay attention to their own thoughts or even try to take care of other tasks instead of focusing on the vehicles and terrain around them. Distracted, speeding drivers can prove a substantial hazard on the road.

3. Drivers may speed because of road rage.

Road rage often comes out at the worst possible moments, causing drivers to engage in behavior that they would not even consider under normal circumstances.

Road rage may emerge as a result of frustration with others on the road or delays, particularly if a driver has watched his time slip away and knows that he will have to arrive late to an activity he planned to attend. Drivers suffering from road rage may speed to show up drivers that have passed them or to get rid of some anger following a long delay.

Unfortunately, road rage may also cause other dangerous behaviors, including a loss of attention on the road, that can make raging drivers very dangerous to others around them.

4. Intoxicated drivers may prove more likely to speed.

Alcohol often removes a driver’s sense of judgment, causing him to engage in much more reckless behaviors than he would engage in under normal circumstances. That recklessness may extend to speeding. Intoxication, however, may also interfere with a driver’s overall motor control, making it difficult for him to control his vehicle at those rates of speed. Intoxicated drivers also often have slowed reaction times and more difficulty responding to potential hazards on the road, which can make speeding even more lethal.

5. Some drivers may speed as they become more familiar with a specific road.

Posted speed limits serve to indicate the fastest speed at which drivers can safely travel a given road. However, as drivers become more comfortable with a specific road, especially if they have to drive on it very regularly, they may become more comfortable with the idea of speeding.

They may feel that they know the road and can handle its hairpin turns or dangerous drops more easily. However, that familiarity with the road may not account for obstacles like pedestrians, other vehicles, or animals in the road. Furthermore, dangerous weather conditions can increase hazards on even the most familiar road, raising the risk of a serious collision.

6. Drivers may feel more confident than they should about their ability to handle potential hazards.

While drivers who speed might not come out and say that they feel the rules exist for other people, but not for them, many drivers become extremely confident in their ability to maneuver at high rates of speed.

Often, that confidence becomes extremely misplaced. Drivers, however, may fail to realize the hazard until they have already caused a serious collision. Speeding drivers may feel a false sense of security if they have managed to avoid collisions in the past, especially if they have a long history of experience on the road. However, aging drivers may have slowed reaction times, which can make speeding more dangerous as they age.

Furthermore, speeding does not care about a driver’s experience when a serious hazard arises. While an experienced driver might have better odds of successfully maneuvering out of a potential accident scenario, experience does not guarantee that the driver will not sustain serious injury.

7. Speeding may occur because of a lack of clearly posted speed limit signs.

Ideally, speed limit signs should appear at regular intervals on the road so that drivers can judge their speed accordingly and slow down when needed. Unfortunately, many roads across the United States still lack adequate signs to determine how fast drivers should safely drive along those roads.

A lack of speed limit signs can make it difficult for drivers to determine a safe rate of speed. Some drivers do not know how to judge and predict speed limit signs, which may raise the risk that they will drive faster and ultimately cause an accident.

8. Some drivers speed just for the thrill.

Many drivers enjoy the thrill of pushing their vehicles and trying to reach a higher rate of speed, even though they know the associated dangers. Younger drivers, in particular, may try to speed on purpose, flying in the face of danger and trying to show that they can handle it.

They may want to show off in front of friends or loved ones, or they may simply enjoy the thrill of speeding. Thrill-seekers may also prove more likely to engage in other dangerous behaviors on the road, from speeding around curves to tailgating, swerving through traffic, and showing examples of road rage.

What Should You Do After a High-Speed Collision?

High rates of speed may seem innocent until an accident occurs. After the accident, you have to figure out what to do next.

Report the Accident to the Police

Even if you and the other driver both chose to speed, report the accident to the police. If the other driver’s speeding caused the accident, that driver may face criminal consequences. However, if you fail to report the accident, it can make it much more difficult for you to pursue the compensation you may deserve for your accident-related injuries. Do not leave the scene of the accident without correctly reporting the incident to the police.

Seek Medical Attention

High-speed collisions often involve serious injuries. If you have obvious signs of injury, you suffered significant property damage, or you have any questions about your physical capability after the accident, go to the nearest urgent care center or hospital to seek treatment as soon as possible.

The sooner you seek medical treatment, the better your odds of making a full recovery. Your trip to an urgent care center or hospital can also serve as evidence of when your injuries took place, which can make it easier for you to get compensation for those injuries.

Talk to a Lawyer

If another, speeding driver caused your accident, or you have questions about the compensation you may deserve after an accident, a lawyer can help you understand your right to compensation and pursue a car accident claim.

Do not try to handle your claim on your own, especially if you have serious injuries. Instead, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation, go over what led to your accident, and discuss your right to compensation.

The Road Rage Challenge

Man Expressing Road Rage

When drivers get frustrated out on the road, anger can grow to immense levels. Unfortunately, as anger grows, so does the driver’s likelihood of engaging in potentially dangerous behavior.

Road rage can cause a driver to make unsafe choices or ignore the other people sharing the road, ultimately resulting in accidents that include severe injuries.

What is Road Rage?

Road rage occurs when drivers engage in aggressive, dangerous behaviors out on the road. Occasionally, road rage simply means that a driver engages in excessively aggressive behavior that endangers others around him. In other cases, however, road rage may include deliberately dangerous behaviors that ultimately result in an act of violence.

#1. Tailgating

An aggressive driver who engages in tailgating may feel frustrated by the front driver’s slow speed or irritated because the driver pulled over in front of him or blocked him off. Tailgating includes traveling too close to the vehicle in front, often so close that the driver of the rear vehicle does not have adequate time to come to a safe stop if the front driver has to stop abruptly.

Unfortunately, tailgating can result in a serious rear-end collision, which can cause a variety of injuries ranging from whiplash to traumatic brain injury.

#2. Speeding

At high rates of speed, accident risk increases substantially. The more a driver increases his rate of speed, the more control he needs to have over his vehicle. Unfortunately, drivers suffering from road rage may have less control over their vehicles than other drivers, even drivers who choose to speed to reach their destination faster.

Speeding may also increase the severity of a collision since it increases the force associated with the accident.

#3. Ignoring Traffic Signals

Traffic signals help guide drivers safely as they move through traffic: showing which lane has right of way, indicating how to safely travel down specific streets, or simply breaking up the flow of traffic so that each driver can safely proceed through an intersection. Unfortunately, raging drivers may ignore those common traffic signals entirely.

Frequently, drivers suffering from immense road rage will choose to speed through intersections without even looking at other vehicles around them, which may substantially increase the risk of a collision.

#4. Cutting off Other Vehicles

Often, a raging driver will cut off the vehicle that bears the brunt of his anger. Frequently, that means making unsafe lane changes. A raging driver may swerve through traffic to prove a point. Not only can that raging driver pose a danger to himself and the driver he targets, he may force other drivers to react quickly to avoid a collision.

#5. Yelling or Making Obscene Gestures

Road rage frequently starts with verbal expressions of fury or hand gestures intended to show other drivers that the raging driver has grown frustrated. Unfortunately, yelling or making obscene gestures may increase anger, rather than helping the raging driver vent some of his anger and calm down.

Yelling or obscene gestures may also trigger rage in another driver, causing the road rage cycle to continue and increasing the odds that an accident will occur.

#6. Blocking the Flow of Traffic

A raging driver may attempt to block the movements of other drivers, especially those he perceives as causing his anger. He may try to pull over in front of the other driver and slow down enough to stop that driver’s progression, often completely blocking a lane or even multiple lanes of traffic to prevent the other driver from moving forward.

Sometimes, the raging driver may couple this behavior with getting out of his car and trying to start a physical altercation.

#7. Trying to Force a Vehicle Off the Road

Raging drivers may, in some cases, escalate to acts of violence, including trying to force another vehicle off the road. In some areas, particularly around steep drops and sharp turns, forcing a vehicle off the road can result in a serious rollover accident or cause substantial damage as a vehicle gets forced into another object.

Sometimes, the driver of the other vehicle may have to decide between hitting the raging driver and hitting something or someone else.

#8. Actively Ramming a Vehicle

When a raging driver escalates to the point of violence, he may actively ram into another vehicle. Ramming into a vehicle can cause immediate damage to both vehicles and, in some cases, serious injury to the passengers in those vehicles.

Unfortunately, some raging drivers may not stop with a single collision. They may back up and try to ram their targets a second time, or multiple times. That loss of control may mean increasing injury for everyone involved in the collision.

#9. Pulling a Weapon

In some cases, raging drivers may pull a weapon on the targets of their ire. Raging drivers who pull a weapon may brandish it and issue threats, or even pull out a gun and start shooting. Often, however, raging drivers will simply indicate that they intend to shoot and try to convince the other driver to get into an altercation. Ignoring those threats and getting to a safe place can help de-escalate the situation.

#10. Following Another Driver

Sometimes, a driver suffering from road rage may choose to follow the driver he feels has wronged him in some way to continue the altercation. The raging driver may try to convince the other driver to pull over or follow him until he stops, then further escalate the confrontation.

Common Causes of Road Rage

Road rage can have a trigger, or it may emerge unexpectedly.

#1. Inconveniences on the Road

Many drivers struggle with road rage when they face inconveniences on the road. They may have a hard time, for example, dealing with potential delays, including slow-moving drivers, traffic jams, and construction. In heavy traffic, road rage tends to occur more often than when drivers have plenty of room to maneuver safely and independently.

#2. Hazards on the Road

Some drivers suffer from road rage when they have faced a hazard on the road, especially a hazard they barely avoided. For example, drivers may become frustrated when they notice other people speeding or swerving through traffic, or they might become angry when they notice another driver talking or texting on the phone, especially in heavy traffic. Often, road hazards can trigger a surge of adrenaline that may lead to increased road rage.

#3. Lack of Time

Sometimes, drivers suffer from road rage primarily because they did not leave adequate time to reach their destinations, especially in heavy traffic. The driver may notice the clock ticking down, but lack the means to get to his destination on time. Unfortunately, when a driver knows that he will end up late for a meeting, event, or encounter, he may have a hard time keeping his temper under control. That temper may then bleed onto everything around him.

#4. Aggressive Behaviors on the Part of Other Drivers

Sometimes, the behavior of other drivers can trigger road rage. Horns honking, obscene gestures, or verbal abuse can all trigger anger in many drivers, leading to serious cases of road rage. Occasionally, loud or aggressive music can also trigger road rage in some drivers.

#5. Stress

For some drivers, road rage may not occur as a result of external stimulus, but rather as a result of internal stress. A driver who feels stressed in other areas of life may feel more stressed out on the road and have a likelihood of engaging in a variety of more dangerous behaviors, including an increased overall risk of road rage. Stress can cause a driver to suffer from road rage even when facing relatively mild stimuli.

What to Do In a Road Rage Encounter

If you encounter a driver exhibiting road rage, it can prove very frightening. Many people have no idea what to do with a driver who suffers from immense rage. Should you call the police? Try to engage the driver and calm him down? Follow these steps to help de-escalate the situation and reduce the risk of serious injury.

1. Avoid engaging the driver.

When possible, do not look at other drivers in their vehicles, including a driver who may show signs of road rage. Try not to engage directly with that driver. Do not roll down your window, hit your horn, or engage in other activities that could indicate that you intend to engage with the situation. Instead, keep your cool and keep your focus on your own driving.

2. Stay in your vehicle.

Whether you notice another driver following you or pull up at a gas station, only to discover that a raging driver has joined you there, do not get out of your vehicle. Your vehicle offers some level of protection from a raging driver.

Getting out of your car could serve to further escalate the situation, making the raging driver angrier or allowing him more personal access to you. Avoid rolling down your window or verbally engaging with the rager.

If you get into an accident with a raging driver, especially if the driver gets out of the car still angry, you may want to remain in your vehicle and call the police instead of getting out of the car to assess the damage. While you may have to interact with the raging driver to properly document and report the accident, it’s wiser to wait until the police arrive at the scene to get out of your car, so you can keep yourself safe.

3. Put distance between you and the raging driver, if possible.

If you notice a driver engaging in aggressive behaviors out on the road, try to put as much distance as possible between you and that driver. You may need to reduce your rate of speed or even change your route to avoid further engaging with that driver.

Sometimes, you may need to pull off the road to a safe place, especially if you have noticed the raging driver speeding ahead of you. However, try not to pull into a poorly lit or generally deserted area, since raging drivers may escalate to physical violence if they can get you out of your vehicle.

4. Do not engage in competition with another driver.

Sometimes, drivers may try to convince you to engage in competition. They may try to get you to race or engage in a pattern of pulling over in front of one another. Driving involves high rates of speed and can invoke a feeling of stress during even a friendly competition. Instead, keep your attention on the road and on arriving safely at your destination.

5. Contact the police, if needed.

If you notice a driver engaging in very dangerous, reckless, or aggressive behavior around you, contact the police if possible. The local police can help de-escalate the situation or get it back under control.

You may need to contact the police if the driver brandishes a weapon or attempts to harm someone else on the road, or if you notice aggressive behavior getting out of hand that could endanger others. If possible, pull off the road or have a passenger call the police, rather than trying to talk on the phone yourself.

A Lawyer Can Help After a Road Rage Accident

An accident involving road rage can leave you shaken. In many cases, road rage accidents involve severe injuries, particularly if the raging driver actively rammed the vehicle or engaged in extremely dangerous behavior. You may deserve compensation for injuries sustained in a road rage accident.

An attorney can help you learn more about your right to compensation, including how to move forward with a claim. Talk to a car accident lawyer about the compensation you may deserve.

Sideswipe Collisions: More Serious Than You May Think

Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer For Sideswipe Collision

As motor vehicle accidents go, drivers tend to think of sideswipe collisions as relatively minor. Scary, certainly, but also less likely to cause serious injuries and fatalities than, say, a head-on collision or a T-bone accident at an intersection.

If someone tells you “I got sideswiped,” you might assume the individual’s car sustained some cosmetic damage, a sheared-off rearview mirror or some dents and paint damage to the door panels, for example but that the driver survived the incident more or less unscathed.

Your instinct can prove wrong. Sometimes, a sideswipe collision has drastic, harmful, and tragic consequences. In this blog post, we explore that version of a sideswipe: how it happens, what it entails, the injuries it can cause, and how a lawyer can help you secure compensation if it happens to you or a loved one.

What We Mean When We Talk About Sideswipe Collisions

To get us started, let’s establish a definition for sideswipe collisions generally.

A sideswipe collision consists of any vehicle-on-vehicle collision in which the initial point of impact occurs on the side of both vehicles, such as:

  • A collision between two vehicles traveling in opposite directions;
  • A collision while one vehicle passes another vehicle traveling in the same direction; and
  • A collision between a vehicle in motion and a stopped vehicle.

What Makes Sideswipe Collisions Dangerous

Notice that we define sideswipe collision by the initial point of impact between two vehicles. It’s from that specific definition that sideswipe collisions acquire their reputation as “minor” accidents. The initial accident happens in passing, so people usually assume that means it’s over quickly.

That’s not necessarily true, however. The initial swipe of the collision may happen in an instant, but that’s often just the beginning of a sequence of potentially catastrophic events. That first impact can easily send either vehicle spinning out of control, or push either vehicle into an opposing lane, or force either vehicle off the road. Secondary accidents, including collisions with other vehicles or fixed objects, and rollovers, accompany many sideswipe accidents, turning what started as a minor initial impact into nothing less than a major motor vehicle accident.

Common Preventable Causes of Sideswipe Collisions

Numerous factors, many of them preventable, contribute to the causes of sideswipe accidents. Below, we discuss three common mistakes made by drivers and others that can lead to a dangerous sideswipe collision.

Speeding

Driving over the speed limit or too fast for road conditions invites a host of dangerous consequences, including causing a sideswipe collision. For one thing, speeding gives drivers less time to react to and avoid sideswipe hazards, like an unexpected narrowing of lanes or an oncoming vehicle that has strayed over the centerline. For another, speeding increases the likelihood that a driver might lose control on a rough or slippery road surface, or at a curve in a highway.

Speeding also heightens the danger of a sideswipe collision turning into a major accident. A speeding car, if knocked off course by a sideswipe, is more likely than a slow-moving one to spin out of control or to roll over. The force of the collision imparted by a speeding vehicle will also tend to increase the severity of damage done to other vehicles, and to knock those vehicles out of lanes and into the paths of others.

Driver Distraction

A driver’s distraction behind the wheel of a moving vehicle commonly leads to a sideswipe collision. Distractions take a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving safely. Any of these lapses can interrupt the driver’s ability to keep a vehicle traveling in a straight line, and in just a second or two, the car or truck can veer far enough off-course to sideswipe a vehicle in a neighboring or oncoming lane.

These days, smartphone use behind the wheel contributes to a disproportionate number of distracted driving accidents, because it involves a dangerous mix of visual, manual, and cognitive tasks. But distractions abounded for drivers even before screens high-jacked their attentions. Watching the rear-view mirror, talking to passengers in the back seat, and eating and driving at the wheel all constitute distractions that can have deadly consequences.

Impaired Driving

Alcohol and drugs, when consumed separately or in combination, impair a variety of human motor and cognitive functions critical to driving safely.

Drunk and drugged drivers risk causing a sideswipe accident because they experience (among other deficits):

  • Slowed reaction times;
  • Diminished perception of speed and distance;
  • Poor judgment making;
  • Lack of motor control;
  • Drowsiness/loss of consciousness; and
  • Blurred or distorted vision.

Impaired driving is illegal, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always stop drunk and drugged drivers from making the tragic decision to get behind the wheel. Sideswipe collisions occur when those drivers veer into adjacent or oncoming lanes, misjudge the distance separating their vehicle from another, and drive too fast for road conditions.

The Human Toll of Sideswipe Collisions

As we said at the outset, the initial side-to-side impact of a sideswipe collision may not cause much harm to any occupants of the vehicles involved. A sideswipe involves a glancing blow, and does not initially impart the dangerous forces on human bodies that other, more direct collisions might.

Still, the secondary effects of a sideswipe can prove catastrophic for drivers and passengers alike. A sideswipe collision can trigger any number of serious follow-on accidents, including head-on collisions, T-bone accidents, and rollovers.

Any of these can cause fatalities, as well as severe injuries, such as:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs);
  • Spinal cord injuries (SCIs);
  • Crushed or traumatically amputated limbs;
  • Severe lacerations and abrasions;
  • Bone fractures and other orthopedic injuries;
  • Back, neck, and shoulder trauma; and
  • Burns.

These and other harms can take a heavy toll on sideswipe accident victims and their families. Accordingly, even though the initial impact of a sideswipe might not cause many injuries to vehicle occupants, a sideswipe might still result in life-altering physical, emotional, and financial difficulty.

Seeking Compensation for Sideswipe Accidents

Victims of sideswipe collisions typically have legal rights to seek compensation for the harm they have suffered. With the help of an experienced motor vehicle accident injury lawyer, they can pursue the at-fault parties for the collision for money damages.

Who owes damages for sideswipe collision injuries?

Unlike many other types of motor vehicle accidents, the individuals most harmed by a sideswipe collision might not include the party at fault for causing their injuries and losses. As we’ve explained, the most catastrophic damage inflicted by a sideswipe usually occurs in the secondary accident that follows the initial impact. The driver whose carelessness or recklessness leads to the initial collision may escape that second accident entirely.

That does not let the at-fault driver off the hook for liability, but it can make the process of determining fault in a sideswipe accident a bit more complicated than in other types of collisions. Experienced lawyers, insurance adjusters, and other accident investigators may need to dig deep into the details of an accident to pinpoint the initial sideswipe collision that triggered a much larger and more damaging crash.

The initial impression given by a head-on collision, for example, might be that one of the two drivers made a tragic mistake that led to the accident. But investigation may uncover that neither of them actually bears any fault, and that instead, a third driver’s sideswipe of one of the two vehicles that collided head-on constituted the true cause of the crash.

That is why it’s always important to hire an experienced attorney whenever you have suffered injuries and losses in an accident. You may not even remember the initial sideswipe that triggered a larger collision, but a careful investigation can uncover multiple parties who may owe you compensation.

These may include:

  • The driver whose careless, reckless, or intentional actions caused the initial sideswipe that knocked your vehicle off-kilter and triggered a secondary collision;
  • That driver’s employer, if the vehicle that sideswiped yours was a commercial vehicle (such as a tractor-trailer, cement mixer, or delivery truck);
  • The bar, restaurant, or social host who served alcohol to that driver before the driver got behind the wheel while under the influence;
  • A municipal or state government agency responsible for failing to maintain safe roads, if a dangerous road hazard contributed to the cause of the sideswipe;
  • An automotive manufacturer, if the auto parts it made experienced a catastrophic failure because of a dangerous defect (for example, a defective tire blowout), leading to a loss of control and a sideswipe;
  • One of the drivers involved in the secondary collision, if they failed to exercise reasonable care that would have prevented the secondary accident.

Consult with an experienced auto accident attorney right away after any crash that harms you or a loved one, especially if a sideswipe triggered it. You and the lawyer have no time to lose in collecting forensic information that might help you identify the party or parties at fault.

What compensation can you recover for sideswipe collision injuries?

One or more parties may owe you significant financial compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered in a sideswipe and (more likely) the secondary accident that followed it. Generally speaking, state laws nationwide entitle crash victims like you to obtain payment for two, and potentially three, categories of damages you suffered.

First, you’re generally entitled to receive economic damages (sometimes called “special” damages), which include all of the financial costs you incurred in the sideswipe collision and any secondary accident it triggered.

These typically include:

  • Medical expenses for treating crash-related injuries, including co-pays, deductibles, and other costs for emergency care, hospitalization, physical therapy, in-home care, medication, and medical equipment.
  • Other expenses you would not have had but for the sideswipe, including the cost of repairing or replacing damaged vehicles, and of paying for services (transportation, cooking-and-cleaning, etc.) to help you manage your day-to-day life while you heal from your injuries.
  • Any wages or income you lost or can’t earn because your injuries prevent you from working.

Second, you’re also entitled to seek non-economic damages (sometimes called “general” damages), which include the wide range of other, non-financial difficulties and challenges you face because of the accident and the injuries you suffered in it.

These damages encompass:

  • The physical pain you feel from your injuries;
  • The emotional suffering and other mental health impacts you endure from those injuries and the trauma of the accident itself;
  • The diminished quality of your life resulting from the injuries, such as losing the ability to engage in family time, hobbies, sports, and other activities that previously brought you joy;
  • The negative impact of your injuries on your personal or intimate relationships; and
  • The harmful effects on your social life and wellbeing of carrying scars from your injuries.

Third, you may also have the right to ask a court to award you additional punitive, also known as exemplary, damages. The law in most states permits courts to order the at-fault party to pay these extra damages in a case in which the at-fault party engaged in extreme, outrageous, or intentionally harmful conduct in connection with causing the sideswipe accident that harmed you.

No one can guarantee that you will receive any of the damages listed above, nor can anyone promise in advance that you will receive any particular amount of money. You can give yourself the best possible chance of securing the maximum possible amount of compensation, however, by hiring a skilled motor vehicle accident injury lawyer to represent you.

Seek Skilled Legal Help After a Sideswipe Collision

We have explained in this blog post the many potential dangers of sideswipe collisions. Despite their reputation as “minor” accidents, sideswipes can cause major injuries and tragic losses.

If a sideswipe collision left you or a loved one injured or worse, you likely have rights to financial compensation from the party or parties at fault. Do not wait to seek the help of an experienced car accident attorney to represent you in obtaining that compensation. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the stronger your chances of securing maximum compensation given your specific circumstances.

Truck Driver Fatigue

Fatigued driving is a significant problem in this country. However, when it involves truck drivers, it can cause especially dangerous crashes. In most fatigue driving accident cases, a motorist gets behind the wheel without having gotten enough sleep. However, when you combine drowsiness and driving a large truck, the results can often be catastrophic.

For these reasons, if a fatigued truck driver has harmed you or a loved one, you deserve compensation and justice for the damages you had to endure. That is why in this blog post, we will delve into the topic of truck driver fatigue, explaining what it means, some reasons for why these types of accidents happen, and the legal recourse you can pursue following a fatigued truck driver accident to get the compensation you deserve. Our truck accident lawyers discuss how you can recover compensation after a fatigued driver accident below.

What Exactly is Truck Driver Fatigue?

Fatigue is often the result of mental or physical exertion that impairs performance. Usually, truck driver fatigue is due to a lack of proper sleep, strenuous work or non-work activities, long work hours, or a combination of all these factors. It is also the cause of many horrific accidents. In fact, in a Large Truck Crash Causation Study, results showed that 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered fatigued at the time of their accident.

Effects of Fatigue on Truck Drivers

Driver fatigue, also sometimes called drowsy driving, is far more dangerous than most people realize. Most anyone who drives can think of a time when they’ve yawned or felt sleepy behind the wheel. What they usually don’t appreciate, however, is that at those moments, their driving abilities were severely impaired.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person who has been awake for 18 hours will experience impairment similar to a person with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent, and someone who has been up for 24 hours straight will suffer from impairment akin to a BAC of 0.10 percent.

In other words, fatigue, like alcohol consumption, will lead to driver impairments like:

  • Slowed reaction times
  • Decreased perception of speed and distance
  • Poor judgment
  • Lack of motor coordination
  • Diminished situational awareness

The effects of fatigue are especially dangerous for truck drivers. Driving a truck is far more complicated and effort-intensive than driving a passenger vehicle. Keeping a truck in control and safe for others on the road requires significant skill and situational awareness. Even a minor impairment of those abilities can lead to a major catastrophe. For that reason, truckers are considered legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.04 percent, just half of that of passenger car drivers.

Truckers routinely go without sufficient sleep, which means they frequently suffer from impairments like the ones above. Unfortunately, that impairment can, and does, lead to serious and fatal truck accidents.

Common Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue

Although numerous regulations are in place to ensure that truck drivers get rest while driving, truckers do not always follow them. As a result, dangerous crashes often occur because of truck driver fatigue.

Some of the common causes of that fatigue include:

Working Long Hours

Federal regulations limit truck drivers to a maximum of 11 hours of driving when that period occurs after taking ten consecutive hours off. Drivers must also take a break lasting at least 30 minutes after 8 consecutive hours of driving. In addition, they must also stop driving once they have driven for 14 hours, and they must not drive more than 60 hours in one week or more than 70 hours in eight days.

Those regulations, however, still leave drivers with long days and weeks of work. 11 hours of driving is a lot, and so is a 60-hour workweek, especially considering the degree of skill and attention drivers need to exercise to stay safe on the road. It’s no wonder they frequently suffer from extreme fatigue.

In addition, not all truck drivers operate in interstate commerce, meaning they do not have to abide by the federal regulations linked above. Instead, they must only abide by state regulations on truck driving within a state’s borders, which are often more relaxed than federal standards and make it even more likely that a tired trucker will get behind the wheel.

Irregular Schedules and Tight Deadlines

Truck drivers do not always have regular schedules, either. They drive to meet sometimes tight, even unrealistic, deadlines, and that frequently means the times of day they work varies widely. They also often take to the road late at night or early in the morning, when traffic is lightest and they can make the best time, but also when their bodies are conditioned to be sleeping.

As a result of these inconsistent work hours, truckers’ do not get regular sleep at the same time every day. Even when truck drivers are supposed to take a break, they frequently fail to get quality sleep, or (in some cases) any sleep at all. Irregular, low-quality sleep causes severe sleep deficits and dangerous fatigue that can lead to truck accidents.

Substance Abuse

It is not uncommon for truck drivers to use legal and illegal stimulants to help them stay awake and alert while driving, and to use legal and illegal sleep aids to help them get to sleep during their breaks from driving.

Unfortunately, using these substances can often impair, rather than improve, driving capabilities. Stimulants, for example, do not make a trucker “less tired” but rather simply mask the symptoms of extreme fatigue for a little while. When their effects wear off, a trucker experiences a dangerous return of drowsiness. Still, almost 30 percent of all truck drivers have admitted to using stimulants, and particularly illegal amphetamines, to stay alert on the job, even though these drugs can often cause impairment.

Similarly, using licit and illicit substances to get to sleep can lead to low-quality sleep, and can have hangover effects that impair driving abilities when truckers wake up. Some widely used sleep aids, for example, must only be taken when a person will get eight straight hours of sleep, which isn’t always an option for truck drivers. The result: tired truckers are made even more so by the medications and substances they use to help them rest. This is where you could even run into an instance of a truck driver being a drunk driver, due to some using alcohol to encourage sleep.

Age and Health Characteristics

As a group, long-haul truck drivers are significantly older than the rest of the U.S. working population. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the median age of a trucker is 46 years old (compared to 42 years for all U.S. workers), and in some private trucking fleets, the median age is as high as 57 years. As we age, we tend to feel the effects of fatigue more profoundly, which means truckers are more vulnerable to fatigue than others.

On a related note, according to the CDC, truckers as a group are in significantly worse health than the average American. More than two-thirds of them (69 percent) are obese, and they’re twice as likely as the general population to have diabetes. More than half of them smoke, and roughly a quarter have high cholesterol and do not get sufficient exercise. These health characteristics, too, tend to make truckers more likely to become dangerously fatigued behind the wheel.

Liability For an Accident Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue

A truck driver owes a duty of care to the public to not engage in unreasonably dangerous behavior behind the wheel of a truck. Driving a big rig while excessively fatigued violates that basic duty.

If a fatigued truck driver causes a traffic accident that harms people, property, or both, numerous parties may face legal liability to the victims.

Those may include:

  • The truck driver who made the dangerous decision to drive while fatigued
  • The trucking company that allowed the truck driver to drive while fatigued, or that imposed unreasonable deadlines or driving requirements that made the trucker’s fatigue inevitable.
  • Any party who ignored evidence that the truck driver did not comply with hours-of-service regulations aimed at keeping tired drivers off the road, as well as anyone who aided and abetted that violation.
  • Any other party whose unreasonably dangerous actions contributed to the cause of a fatigued trucking accident.

It is not always easy to determine who owes damages for a fatigued truck driver accident. That is why, if you have been injured in a trucking accident, you should reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. A skilled lawyer can investigate what happened, figure out who was at fault for the incident, and ensure they hold all the liable parties accountable for the losses and injuries you sustained.

Potential Damages for a Fatigued Truck Driver Accident

Victims of a truck crash caused by a fatigued truck driver may have the right to receive the following types of compensation from the at-fault parties.

Economic damages, consisting of financial losses borne by the victim as a direct result of a truck accident and the injuries it caused, such as:

  • Past, current, and future medical expenses for hospital stays, emergency room visits, doctor visits, surgeries, prescription medications, medical assistive devices, and other medical needs.
  • Lost wages from missing work due to an injury
  • Lost earning capacity when an injury impairs the ability to work in the future
  • In-home nursing care and other assistance
  • Personal property repairs
  • Rehabilitative services such as physical and occupational therapy
  • Replacement services such as child care services or cleaning services
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses

Non-economic damages, consisting of non-financial difficulties and challenges caused by the truck accident and the injuries the victim sustained, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of a limb
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement

A lawyer for a truck accident victim may secure punitive damages on a victim’s behalf if particularly extreme or reckless conduct causes an accident. Extreme fatigue can qualify in light of the heightened awareness that exists throughout the trucking industry of the dangers of drowsy driving and the extensive regulations that seek to curb its effects.

Experienced truck accident lawyers work closely with their clients to determine the full range of damages that a fatigued trucker caused them.

Get the Legal Help You Need—Reach out to an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Today

Personal Injury Attorney Jared Spingarn
Jared Spingarn, Truck Accident Lawyer

It isn’t always obvious to accident victims that a trucker’s fatigue caused a truck accident. An experienced truck accident attorney, however, knows where to look for evidence of the trucker’s fatigue, how to obtain and preserve that evidence, how to interpret it, and how to present it to a court to prove the role that fatigue played in a crash.

That is why you must contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after suffering harm in a truck accident.

A lawyer can get to work on:

  • Going over your case, evaluating your legal claim, and helping you figure out which legal options you should pursue
  • Answering all the questions and concerns, you have following the trucking accident
  • Investigating the trucking accident, determining if it was due to fatigued driving, and gathering the evidence needed to show fault and damages
  • Handling all the discussions and negotiations with the other side, including the insurance company, and going after a fair settlement offer
  • Ensuring that documents and legal motions are filed before any applicable deadline expires
  • Taking your case to trial, if the other side is unwilling to negotiate and fighting relentlessly for the maximum damages you need
  • Collecting any money due to you through a settlement, judgment, or jury verdict

If you or a loved one was harmed in a trucking accident because of a fatigued truck driver, do not wait to seek the legal help you need. You may have limited time to take legal action to preserve your rights to compensation.

For a free consultation about your rights and options after suffering harm in a truck accident, contact an experienced personal injury accident lawyer today.

If Reckless Driving Injures You, Call a Car Accident Lawyer

Anyone who drives regularly has had the experience of seeing someone speed or pass unsafely and thinking to themselves, “wow, that’s reckless”. These instances go beyond the questionable risks we see other drivers take every day and stand out as especially dangerous and liable to cause someone serious injuries.

The law, like ordinary drivers, recognizes a distinction between careless actions behind the wheel and reckless ones. In this blog post, we examine what makes some types of driving reckless, and how the law deals with reckless drivers criminally and civilly.

Distinguishing Reckless Driving from Careless Driving

Several years ago, the American Automobile Association’s research arm, the AAA Foundation, published research reporting that 87 percent of drivers have engaged in unsafe driving behaviors within the past month. That’s a pretty startling statistic. Very few perfectly safe drivers populate our roads.

Still, that does not make us a nation of reckless drivers. Saying that a driver is reckless implies something worse: that they drive in a way that exhibits an extreme and unacceptable (what laws in many states refer to as “willful and wanton”) disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others. If careless driving poses a risk of an accident, reckless driving poses a materially heightened risk not just of an accident, but of one that will cause serious injuries or fatalities.

Laws nationwide embrace this distinction. Virtually all unsafe driving behaviors are “illegal” in the sense that they constitute a violation of a given state’s motor vehicle code. Reckless driving, however, is often illegal in a more consequential way: most states criminalize it. Some locales explicitly call out reckless driving as a stand-alone criminal offense.

Others have criminal laws on the books punishing specific conduct behind the wheel that is, by its nature, reckless. One way or another, the law treats reckless driving as something worse than mere careless driving. It puts the public at risk for severe consequences and accordingly the law subjects it to harsh penalties.

Common Examples of Reckless Driving

So far, we’ve discussed reckless driving as driving that’s relatively worse than careless driving. But what, specifically, constitutes reckless driving that exposes the public to the worst consequences, and is worthy of the harshest punishment? Here are some common examples.

Excessive Speeding

Almost all drivers speed sometimes, in that they drive five miles per hour over the speed limit on a highway or a street they frequently travel.

Speeding becomes reckless when it unacceptably disregards the safety of others and poses an extreme risk of causing an accident, such as in the following circumstances:

  • Driving far more than (for example, two-times, or 25 miles per hour over) a posted speed limit;
  • Exceeding the speed limit through a designated low-speed area, such as a school or construction zone;
  • Speeding in connection with another prohibited driving activity, such as street racing;
  • Driving too fast to stay in control in heavy traffic or poor weather conditions.

Most drivers know reckless speeding when they see it. It’s the car that blows past on the highway as if your car was standing still, or the driver going so fast that you just know he could not possibly stop safely on a rain-slick road.

Intentional Disregard for Traffic Rules and Controls

As part of the social and legal contract most drivers follow, we recognize that public officials post traffic signs and lights as a means of ensuring our safety and the safety of others with whom we share the road. We may not like waiting at a stoplight, and we may think the public road department made a bad decision in turning a formerly two-way street into a one-way thoroughfare, but accepting those decisions and abiding by traffic controls is something we all must do for the greater good.

Some drivers, however, refuse to play along. They know they’re supposed to stop at a red light, and that they should never take a wrong-way shortcut, but they do it anyway. They know—because we all know—that their actions are extremely dangerous. They simply put their interests above the safety of others. In a word, they’re reckless.

Using Roads for Purposes Other Than Transportation

Roads exist to facilitate the public getting from one place to another. Except in narrow circumstances when they’re closed for specific purposes (such as a running race), roads do not serve purposes unrelated to transportation.

Drivers who nevertheless decide to use the roads for purposes other than intended engage in reckless conduct. One such example is drivers who take to the road to joyride or race each other, putting the public at risk of serious accidents. Another is drivers who road rage, using the roads as a means of venting their anger toward others.

Impaired Driving

All drivers understand that driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol is illegal and dangerous. By definition, that same conduct also constitutes reckless driving. The effects of drugs and alcohol slow a driver’s reaction times, cloud the driver’s judgment, and interfere with the perception of speed and distance. Any of these effects, let alone a combination of them, stands a good chance of resulting in a deadly accident.

Holding Reckless Drivers Accountable

Laws in every state hold reckless drivers accountable for their actions and the harm they cause in at least three ways. Here is a summary of each.

Criminal Accountability

As we mentioned above, many states define reckless driving as criminal conduct, and others subject drivers to criminal penalties for engaging in specific reckless driving behaviors. No matter which approach a state takes (and some take both), the consequences for reckless driving can be severe. Reckless drivers face potential prison sentences, large monetary fines, and long terms of probation. Having a criminal driving record can also impair their ability to obtain employment, particularly if that employment involves driving any sort of commercial vehicle.

Local prosecutors enforce criminal penalties for reckless driving by charging drivers with crimes and, if the defendant does not plead guilty, asking judges and juries to convict them. Victims of accidents caused by reckless drivers do not get to decide whether a prosecutor brings charges, but may participate in an eventual prosecution.

Administrative Consequences

Driving a car is a privilege, not a right. The state, which issues driver’s licenses, may revoke its permission for an individual to drive upon finding that the driver has engaged in reckless conduct.

State laws differ regarding the circumstances in which a department of motor vehicles may suspend or revoke a license, and on the duration of any given suspension. Reckless drivers, however, can expect to lose their driving privileges for at least some time if they cause an accident, whether or not the state charges them with a crime.

Civil Liability to Victims for Damages

Reckless drivers who cause accidents that injure innocent victims will generally face legal liability to the people they harm for monetary damages.

This liability may include an obligation to pay compensation to victims to pay for:

  • Medical expenses victims incur in connection with treating injuries they suffered in an accident, including the costs of emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, and medication.
  • Other costs victims face because of the accident or the injuries they suffered in it, such as expenses for modifying their homes to accommodate new disabilities, or of replacing damaged personal property.
  • Wages and income victims lose as a result of their injuries, most commonly in cases in which victims miss work while recovering from an injury, or when victims suffer disabling injuries that prevent them from working.
  • Pain, suffering, and impacts on the quality of victims’ lives resulting from the reckless driving accident and the injuries it inflicted, which may include harm to victims’ personal relationships, and mental health challenges victims face because of their injuries.

In some cases, courts may also impose punitive damages on reckless drivers, to punish them for their dangerous, willful conduct.

Other Parties May Share the Blame for Reckless Driving

Reckless drivers who cause harm aren’t the only parties who may face consequences for the drivers’ misconduct. Others may share the blame—and legal liability —for injuries and losses suffered by reckless driving victims.

For example:

  • Employers of individuals who drive recklessly and cause accidents may face legal liability to victims of their employees’ misconduct, particularly if they failed to train employees in safe driving practices or knew of an employees’ dangerous tendencies.
  • Bars, restaurants, and social hosts that serve alcohol to a driver who subsequently causes an accident while under the influence, especially if that driver was a minor or was visibly intoxicated before they served the driver alcohol.
  • Organizers of illegal street racing or other events that encourage reckless driving that ends in an accident.
  • Medical professionals who prescribe medication that causes an unexpected, unwanted change in a driver’s mental state that results in reckless behavior behind the wheel.

It isn’t always obvious who may share liability with a reckless driver for injuries the driver causes. The most reliable way to determine who may owe damages for a reckless driving accident is to speak with an experienced car accident injury attorney as soon as possible after suffering harm in a crash. An attorney can investigate the circumstances of the accident and determine who may owe compensation to accident victims under applicable law.

What to Do if a Reckless Driver Harms You

Do you know the steps to take if you get hurt in an accident caused by a reckless driver? Here are some suggestions for actions that can protect your rights.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Perhaps the most important step any reckless driving accident victim can take is to seek medical care immediately. Consulting with a medical professional is important even if you do not believe you suffered injuries in a crash.

Some injuries—including serious ones like brain trauma or internal organ damage—may not exhibit immediate symptoms, but can cause life-altering or life-threatening complications if not treated right away.

Obtaining prompt, appropriate medical care also ensures the creation of records that document any injuries a victim suffers in a reckless driving accident, which attorneys may use later to establish the victim’s right to compensation.

Consult an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

In the wake of suffering injuries in a reckless driving accident, few victims put hiring a lawyer at the top of their list of priorities. Seeking legal advice, however, will often constitute the smartest decision victims can make (after they have received medical care, of course).

A skilled car accident attorney acts as a crucial ally for accident victims in navigating the sometimes complicated decisions and life circumstances they often confront after getting hurt in a reckless driving accident.

An attorney can:

  • Investigate the accident to determine how it happened and who, in addition to the reckless driver, may face legal liability for victims’ injuries.
  • Evaluate the harm victims have suffered and calculate the appropriate amount of damages they have a right to receive under applicable laws.
  • Explain victims’ rights and options, and help victims make important decisions that may affect their legal rights and financial wellbeing.
  • Prepare, file, and litigate legal actions designed to secure maximum compensation for victims’ injuries and losses.
  • Negotiate settlements, when possible, of victims’ claims.
  • Take victims’ cases to trial in front of judges and juries, to obtain a damages award commensurate with the victims’ injuries.
  • Collect monies due to reckless driving accident victims through settlements, judgments, or jury awards.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a reckless driving accident, chances are you have rights under your state’s laws to receive significant financial compensation for the harm you suffered. To learn more about your rights in a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation, contact an experienced local car accident attorney today.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me After a Rear-End Collision?

Any type of car accident is an unfortunate situation that can often lead to devastating injuries. Out of all car accident scenarios, rear-end collisions sometimes cause the most serious damage to your body.

Perhaps you are going through this now after recently experiencing a rear-end collision on a busy road here in Florida. Things like this can happen so fast, you are potentially in a state of shock at the devastation it left behind.

Not only is your car possibly totaled, but you also suffered serious injuries that put you in the hospital. Let’s look at what you need to do next to put your life back together, including how a lawyer can help you after a rear-end collision.

How Did Your Rear-End Collision Happen?

According to statistics, rear-end collisions are the third most common type of car accident next to head-on and angle crashes. Some of those rear-ends are fatal due to the extreme impact.

Others, like you, manage to survive and incur injuries that change your life forever. The big question is, how did it happen?

A rear-end collision can happen in any number of ways. Often, it is not your fault as the victim. All too commonly, it is someone who ran into you due to a particular driving distraction.

Sometimes the defendant’s car is to blame due to a maintenance or manufacturing problem. Negligence, in this case, could go to more than one person, using Florida’s pure comparative fault law.

In other situations, smartphones, car radios, or passengers talking too much distract drivers.

It is a warning tale about the prevalence of distracted driving. Just one critical driving error like this from the negligent person could alter your life in a manner of seconds.

Not all rear-end collisions come from ordinary passenger cars either.

Other Vehicles Causing Rear-End Collisions

A regular car can cause enough damage to your vehicle if it rear-ends you. Your injuries can turn ten times worse after being hit from behind by a truck.

Far too many rear-end collisions from trucks occur on Florida roadways and highways. Some of those happen during busy commuter times when traffic is at its heaviest.

The reasons for the collisions are nearly identical to those who drive cars. Except, there is one difference in that truck drivers are far too commonly exhausted while at the wheel. Due to the pressure of delivering goods and driving into the morning hours, fatigued truck drivers are still a big problem.

After being hit from behind by a truck, your injuries are likely much worse than just mere whiplash. You may have major spinal injuries or traumatic brain injuries.

Of course, it is not just trucks that pose a threat in rear-end collisions. Other large vehicles like farm equipment, buses, or SUVs could plow into your car from behind and give you sustained injuries with ongoing life repercussions.

Spinal Injuries From Rear-End Collisions

One of the most common injuries in rear-end collisions is injuries to the spine. Severity levels with this injury are either complete or incomplete, with both altering how you live your life.

A complete spinal injury paralyzes you entirely from below the waist. Quadriplegia is also possible under this category where even your upper body is paralyzed. It means the likelihood of living in a wheelchair while possibly being unable to function normally without assistance. You may have the inability to communicate.

Incomplete spinal injuries might paralyze some of your motor functions, albeit not entirely. Even if it prevents you from being in a wheelchair, it can still cause enough issues where your physical mobility is no longer the same.

In these situations, you do not easily go back to the way things were before. Any job you had is possibly no longer workable, leading to no income for years to come.

Traumatic Brain Injuries From Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions also cause brain injuries, usually from flying you forward from the crash impact. Your head possibly hit the dashboard or the windshield at high impact, leading to a major concussion.

While seeking medical treatment, you may have found out that you had a traumatic brain injury. Despite most brain trauma healing over time, it could also lead to permanent brain damage.

Any sort of injury to the brain is as serious as a spinal injury. Do not let anyone minimize the seriousness of a brain injury in a rear-end collision. Unfortunately, insurance companies of the defendant sometimes attempt to make it look like your injuries are exaggerated.

Broken Bones or Nerve Damage

Other injuries are possible in rear-end crashes like broken bones and nerve damage, leading to just as much physical difficulty. Not all bones easily repair themselves if severely broken in a car accident.

Nerves are also challenging to repair, leading to possible impairments that affect your ability to function normally. Many of these injuries could end up even more severe if you rode in the back seat of a car driven by someone else. Being closer to the car impact location means taking a more severe physical toll on your body.

Let’s also not forget about the mental aspects of these injuries. The pain and suffering you will go through could lead to depression and other mental issues for years to come. Personal injury lawyers call this intangible evidence.

Your First Step After a Rear-End Collision

After any of the above injury scenarios, you are likely stuck in a hospital at the moment, leading to questions about your future. What should you do to get yourself recovered and gain any compensation to pay your medical bills?

Your first step is to just take time for yourself. Take all the time you need to get yourself well, and always seek medical attention immediately after experiencing your rear-end collision.

Once you are well enough, it is time to think about seeking legal help to win you a settlement. How you go about this could require the help of someone close to you if you are unable to call due to your injuries.

Should you not have the ability to call a lawyer, allow someone close to you to call on your behalf. Time is of the essence in your case due to some very good reasons.

As soon as you have a personal injury lawyer on your side, they can help you through the next legal steps.

Gather Evidence

It is always a good idea if you gather as much evidence as you can on your own since evidence can easily disappear quickly. Understandably, your injuries may prevent you from gathering anything after the rear-end collision occurs.

To get started, your car accident lawyer can go to work visiting the scene where your car accident took place. Whether in an intersection, along a highway, or in a parking lot, they can take action in acquiring any evidence available.

This usually begins by interviewing witnesses who happened to see the accident occur. Thanks to smartphones being ubiquitous in our culture, the chances are occasionally good that witnesses captured video of the rear-end collision as it happened.

Physical traces of the accident are also possibly available. Pieces of your car are hopefully still there before cleanup occurs. Acquiring this is sometimes more difficult since the city attempts to clean up all accident residue within hours.

Traffic camera footage also helps. Most intersections here in Florida have traffic cameras that have easy-to-acquire video footage. Any private security camera footage usually requires a subpoena to acquire.

Finally, your medical bills are a big part of the evidence gathered.

What Your Medical Bills Say About Your Rear-End Collision Injuries

Your car accident lawyer takes the initiative on gathering all your medical bills while you are still in recovery mode. It is not likely the last of your medical bills. Nevertheless, placing the existing ones in safekeeping is going to help immensely in proving your case to an insurance company.

Going to trial later also requires evidence like this. Your bills can prove how much treatment you have needed to try to restore your physical health after the rear-end collision happened.

Medical records also show the major impact of what rear-end collisions do to the body. All your X-rays and scans could show severely broken bones and other internal injuries. Clear evidence of this becomes undeniable when questioned about the severity of your injuries in your claim.

Beyond your medical bills, your lawyer also looks to your likely future and your probable financial condition. Your medical bills will prove your financial difficulties.

Parts of this are the intangible side of evidence as well. Pain and suffering due to your injuries is one thing. Mental pain from not being able to work and keep your head above water is another.

Insurance Negotiations

Evidence gathering and presentation is a big first step in proving your rear-end collision case. Next is the more complicated work of negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company.

There is a small chance the defendant had no car insurance. In this case, it might require your lawyer working with your own insurance company if you had coverage for non-insured drivers.

Otherwise, dealing with the insurance company of the defendant is a challenging path only your lawyer can handle. Never attempt to communicate with the insurance company on your own, even though they are sure to contact you.

One of the first things they will attempt to do is offer you a low settlement amount to end the case early. They do this to avoid a trial or going through lengthy negotiations with your lawyer. Insurance companies also frequently ask you questions about how you feel, something to avoid. Anything you say now could easily get twisted later.

Only your lawyer should have any contact with the insurance company adjuster. Thanks to their legal experience, they know the tricks insurance companies pull to get you to settle early.

Along the negotiation path, your legal team presents evidence of how your rear-end collision occurred. As much as insurance adjusters try to minimize your injuries, compelling facts make all the difference. Insurance companies eventually do settle when this happens, but how much should you expect?

Settlement Expectations

No one should deny you compensation as you prove your rear-end collision was as devastating physically and mentally as any other car accident. How much you might receive in a settlement is variable based on the evidence you present.

Never expect a certain amount just because your car accident lawyer has a strong track record of large settlements. While compelling evidence matters in how much you receive, the final amount is sometimes less or more than what is typical.

During the negotiation process, your lawyer keeps in contact with you to present each offer. Only you decide which final offer you want to take. The insurance company may continue to send overly low offers, making you decide to take the case to trial.

Your lawyer always adheres to your wishes. Just keep in mind trials do take longer. Sometimes it is a better bet because you are presenting your case to a jury rather than to a judge.

Also, keep in mind the final settlement is not always the end of the story.

Punitive Damages for Your Rear-End Collision

Suing for punitive damages against the defendant is made to send a message that they were especially egregious in their actions. For instance, if the driver was drunk or willfully crashed into the back of your car, punitive damages would be an additional suit directly against the negligent person.

Depending on the defendant’s financial situation, you could see more compensation from them due to the injuries you will battle for the rest of your life. Once in a while, the defendant is also a major company found negligent in maintaining a vehicle that crashed into you.

Get Legal Help Now!

Contact a personal injury attorney immediately if you have just been injured in a rear-end collision. Despite Florida’s statute of limitations on personal injuries being four years, you do not want to wait too long. Evidence can all too easily disappear without quick action.

A personal injury attorney can help you through the legal process with empathy and respect for the pain you are going through.